Sunday, June 7, 2015

Color me Beale Street

It just doesn’t seem all that important to ask if white folks and black folks listen to music the same way.

It’s about the music, right?

The music is the thing, it’s an ancient part of our human culture and our lives.

Still, the question is out there.

In a New York Times review of a couple books about the richly notorious Beale Street in Memphis and all the music that got started there, James Gavin reports a bit of repartee from Al Bell, former co-owner of Stax Records in Memphis. Stax had an impressive stable of big names: Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and others. Bell told their story in just a few words: “When the white audiences discovered us, we didn’t get whiter—they got blacker.”

Years ago I saw a video of a session Wynton Marsalis did with black high school kids in New York City. He played his trumpet, and talked a bit. One of the kids asked him something like “When you play for white folks, is it different than when you play for black folks?”  The world-renowned jazzman took a moment, then said “No, it’s pretty much the same no matter who loves my music….except, white folks snap their fingers on the downbeat.”

Hey, listen with whatever finger you like, that’s what I say.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015 All rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment